Wednesday, November 30, 2011 Purchase

I've heard a lot about and how easy they are to order from.  I've just never really taken the time to look at the site to see what they have.  I always thought they were just shoes and it's hard for me to order shoes online.  I get nervous if I can't try something on before I buy it.

Yesterday I got an email from Rue Lala about a Michael Kors sale on jackets.  I didn't buy a coat for myself last year and I really need a camel pea coat or a warm, casual black coat.  I found an amazing jacket and fell in love.  It was $99.  I'm always concerned that the sleeves on jackets won't be long enough for my long arms, so I was really nervous about ordering it.  Rue Lala will refund your money if you return something, as long as you pay the return shipping.  I went to look for any product reviews on the jacket to see if I could find anything on the arm length.  I didn't find any reviews but I did find the same jacket on sale on

It was $7 more expensive on, but shipping was free, returns are free and they have NEXT DAY delivery.  All of that was worth the extra $7.  I ordered the jacket yesterday at 11:30 and it was at my desk today by 1:00.  How amazing is that!

Jacket Review - I LOVE IT.  The down makes it very warm and the sleeves are long enough! I've never had a jacket with a hood, besides my all-purpose North Face jacket that's far more casual than this one, and definitely not one with faux fur.  LOVE IT.  There are pulls at the waist of the jacket on the inside so you can see that you actually have a waist and you're not one long blob.  I'm also 6' tall and the jacket is long enough to come down below my bum, a very nice bonus.  I'm thinking the girl in the photo above is similar to by body size and shape because it fits me exactly how it fits her in the picture.  I'm typically a Medium in shirts and dresses and I ordered a Medium in the jacket and it is true to size.

I'm so very happy with my purchase!  Now if I want to wear black and be casual I don't have to wear my nice peacoat and look over dressed or wear my North Face and look super casual.  This one is right smack dab in the middle.

I've had a few minutes to look around at a little bit more and I love how easy it is to search for items.  The site has more sorts than you would ever think necessary, but if you're looking for something specific, it's such a help.

I highly recommend to any online shopper.  I wish I had known sooner.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving Weekend

We made it through the Thanksgiving weekend without tears, stress, yelling or fighting.  It was a miracle. I guess it just proves again how lucky I am to have Stephen and the family that I do.

My dad and step-mom, Patti, drove to Atlanta on Tuesday and made it in time for dinner.  I had reservations for us at Parish in Inman Park.  What a great choice.  Stephen and I already love the place and my parents loved it just as much.  It turns out that the owners of Parish own two restaurants in Orlando that they frequent all the time.  Who knew?!

Wednesday morning Stephen and I had to go to work so the parents got to sleep in and Mabel started her 5 days not being in a crate all day, lucky dog.  After work I went to lunch and did a little shopping with Dad and Patti.  We went to the Highland Bakery for lunch - delicious.  It was packed and super loud inside, not ideal for lunch with your parents, but I'd never been there before, so who knew.  And after waiting 15 min to be seated, we weren't about to leave.

Wednesday night I made my French Onion Soup for dinner and we watched some TV.  It was a quiet night before the craziness of Thanksgiving cooking began.  Patti made the best cookies ever - see below.  I wish we still had some around the house, they're gone already.

I bought parchment paper at the store the other week.  Every baking recipe I have calls for parchment paper.  I've never used it and didn't know what the big deal was.... and then I tried it.  HELLO!  Use parchment paper when baking!!!  

Wednesday night the bird went into a brine to soak overnight.  I was so nervous about it sitting in a bucket all night on the patio, but it got cool enough overnight that none of the ice melted.  What a relief.  Stephen knows what he's doing, I learned never to doubt him in the kitchen, even on recipes he's never cooked before.  

While Stephen and I cooked in the kitchen, Dad and Patti got to watch a lot of football, some of the dog show and the Macy's parade and relax.  It was nice for us to take care of them and let them relax.  

The table was set and ready to go!  It looks so pretty.  I can't wait to collect more items for the table as time goes on.  One year at a time!

Here it is, the perfect turkey.  The skin is cooked just right, the meat was juicy and everything was fully cooked.  Stephen, you did an amazing job.

It's time to dig in!  I think the only thing missing from this picture is the mashed potatoes and the desserts.  There just wasn't enough room.  Yes, we had enough food for 12 people.  Stephen and I have been eating leftovers for days and we still have more to go.  Here is the menu:

Mashed Potatoes
Sweet Potato Casserole
Green Bean Casserole
Mac N Cheese
Corn Casserole
Candied Carrots
Carrot Cake
Chocolate Pecan Pie

Not one dish was turned down and everything was a success.

A tradition that Stephen and I are starting is signing Our Book of Thanks at every Thanksgiving dinner (or after dinner when the food is cleared away).  In the book, everyone who is at dinner that night writes what they're thankful for and we take a group picture at the table.  The top picture on the blog is the one we took just before we ate.  I can't wait to watch the book fill up each year.  It's going to be such a fun tradition.

In all of the hubbub of the weekend we also took a few minutes to take our Christmas Card picture, with Mabel, of course.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Visit Ruby Falls!

If you've ever made the drive up I-75 from Atlanta to Chattanooga you've seen the red signs saying, "See Ruby Falls."  You can't miss them, I promise.  Well, Stephen and I did just that.  We were on our way to Lookout Mountain to do some hang gliding (so exciting!) when we got the call more than an hour into our 90 min drive that it was too windy on the mountain and they would not be doing any hang gliding that day.  BUMMER.

Instead of turning around and driving home we decided to see what Ruby Falls was all about.  I'd been before, but didn't remember much about the tour.

It goes like this.  Lookout Mountain is made of limestone and limestone mountains have tons of caves, many still undiscovered and unexplored.  In the 1920s, a cave that had been open for a very long time and a favorite to natives in the area was closed.  A very wealthy man, Leo, was one of those natives and decided to drill from the top of the mountain down to his favorite cave.  Along the way he hit a burst of air and saw that he had discovered a new cave.  he spent 17 hours exploring the cave and discovered the underground waterfall he named, Ruby Falls, after his wife.

After a mile hike into the mountain through a path that has been cleared for tours you arrive at Ruby Falls.  It's beautiful.  They keep the lights off until everyone on the tour is in the cavern and then they turn them on.  It's pretty breathtaking.  It's hard to capture how pretty it is in a single picture.

The falls are over 100 feet tall and scientists are unsure where the water comes from.  They haven't been able to track back to it's source but they do know when there is a lot of rain, the cave will flood.  

I didn't take pictures along the hike to the falls because it's really hard to make pictures of rocks interesting and it's hard to tell what the pictures are of without being there and seeing them in space.  

After the tour, back above ground we went to the top of the observation tower to check out the view.

Chattanooga is pretty tiny, but there is a pretty river.

Here are the standard we-don't-have-anyone-to-take-a-picture-of-us-together pictures.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sea Island, GA

I work in advertising and every now and then we get a client or a new business opportunity that is exciting to work on.  There are a lot of clients out there that do great work, but unless you're part of the target market, it's unappealing.  I had the honor of working on the USMC account for over three years and that is still my favorite account to date.

At my current agency we were pitching the Sea Island, GA business and the final presentations were held at The Cloister on Sea Island.  I'm not going to go into any of the work or results, but I'll share my experience at the hotel.

The Cloister lobby

In my opinion, Sea Island can be captured in one word - Wow.  There really was no expense spared when the new owners rebuilt The Cloister.  I took a ton of pictures, but none seem to do it justice.  Everything is in it's perfect place and every detail was thought of in decorating every room.

The back of The Cloister

I only had about an hour one morning to really tour the grounds and it wasn't nearly enough time.  I walked around the Cloister and my room and quickly to The Beach Club.  Sadly I didn't have time to tour the Spa which I hear is unlike anywhere else. 

My room was enormous.  It was probably larger than my old apartment in Midtown.  Actually, I know it was.  The bathroom had 3 different rooms for goodness sake.  

Bedroom with the most comfortable king size bed I've ever slept in

My room had a balcony that looked out to the marsh at the front of the hotel.  I should have had breakfast on the balcony, but I wasn't quite awake when it was time to eat and sat at my coffee table watching the Today Show. 

The giant tub with pillow.  It was amazing.  I watched TV in the bathroom right there in the tub the night before the meeting after a great dinner with the team.

At Sea Island you don't just get glasses for your water, you get crystal glasses on a silver tray with a silver ice bucket.  That's real, folks. 

Above is my set up for my $30 breakfast in my room.  The only real option for breakfast at The Cloister was to order to your room.  I ordered cereal and a toasted bagel.  Again, this was $30.  Maybe it was because of the 6 options I was given for my one bagel - cream cheese, butter and 4 different jellies.  $30.  

Cigar room where the guys had an after dinner smoke before bed.  I headed back to my room for my bath.  The air was recycled something like every 10 seconds.  

My room was on the second floor on the far left.  North wing. 

View from my room of the marsh and Georgia mainland. 

Again, the details of this place were outstanding.  So was the price tag.  If I hadn't been traveling for work, there is no way I could have afforded a place like The Cloister.  

Will I ever be back to Sea Island, I hope so.  I hope I don't have to pay for it!  

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Vanderbilt vs Florida 2011

Dad has been a season ticket holder for Florida Football game since 1978.  He's had the same seats in the South End Zone since they were build, before I was born.  My entire childhood's experience with football was spent in Dad's two seats.  They are my favorite place in all of Florida Field.  Maybe mid-field would be better, but I wouldn't want to watch a game anywhere else than those seats, with my dad.

For the Homecoming game against Vanderbilt this year I was able to bring Stephen for his first SEC football game and first trip to The Swamp.  My step-sister and her husband got tickets with us too.  Instead of the 4 of is sitting in our actual seats, we took seats by our parents and had a great time, all 6 of us!

Every year Dad and I take the same picture, at the balcony of our level.  One day I'll line all of them up and watch us get older.  Dad looks so cute in this one!

Of course no football game would be complete without tailgating before the game.  Kickoff was 12:20 which doesn't leave much time.  Add on to that a drive from Atlanta and you're looking at even less time.  Stephen and I were on the road by 5:45am and arrived in Gainesville at our parking spot at 10:45.  We had one hour to chat, drink and get to the game.  Not tons of time, but we had fun!  We even made friends with a group of people near by who provided us with Bloody Mary's!  Jackpot!

My favorite part of the tailgate, Meaghan's Gator cookies!  Look how cute they are.  I can't wait to make them, I just need the cookie cutter.  (Hint Hint for family out there - it's almost Christmas!)  Some of the Gators are even wearing pearls!

The game was great, the good guys won.  You don't get to say that too much this season.  I'm glad we got to see a W.  GO GATORS!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Shecky's Girls Night Out - Event Review

Last night was night #1 of the Shecky's Girls Night Out event in Atlanta.  From their website, here is a recap of this event: Let

Keeping up with the latest in what to wear (and how to pull it off) is hard. Fashion styles come and go, and beauty trends fade in and out. One thing that's always in style: quality time with your friends. At Girls Night Out, you and your fabulous entourage will discover unique designers, sip our delectable drinks, and cap your night off with some pretty pampering and glorious Goodie Bags (trust us, you don’t want to miss the goodies).

Let me give you my take on the event.  The Biltmore Hotel ballroom was where it all went down.  If you've never been inside the Biltmore, I hadn't, you should find a reason.  It was beautiful.  When you walk in the doors you're greeted by some security guys, they were everywhere, and funneled into the main check-in area.  What a long process.  The ticket confirmation said you needed to bring your confirmation number and your ID.  You only needed your ID and it seemed like the computers didn't have anything quick to look up last names.  

Once we were through the check in, we picked up our goodie bags (not as exciting as I had expected them to be) and headed to the first drink booth that we could find.  The alcohol booths were set up throughout the ballrooms - some liquor, some beer, some wine and some cocktails.  You could only have one drink in hand at a time.  The portions were small, but drinks were unlimited so if you were planning on being there the full 5 hours of the event I'm sure you could have found your happy place.  

About 5 minutes into the night I was frustrated.  I told the two friends that were with me that I thought I was too nice to be there.  I don't have it in me to cut in line in front of someone or nudge someone out of the way while looking at jewelry or clothes.  At the first drink booth a lady literally walked up to the bartender right in front of the 3 of us who were clearly there to order.  I'm not sure if I've ever been bumped into or nudged as many times as I was last night, a crowded bar on a Saturday night comes close to how it felt around some of the vendor tables.  

The vendors were a mix of makeup companies, small and large, clothing boutiques, jewelry designers and a few other random products here and there.  Some of it was cute but most of it was not for us and we walked by without stopping.  I think if I wasn't at risk of being smashed into while looking at some of the jewelry I may have purchased something, but never stayed in one place long enough for that.  The two girls each tried on a dress, I didn't find anything that was right for me.  

I did get my makeup done at the Maybeline counter.  The line was pretty long, but they had makeup professionals there to show you the color foundation that was right for you and then do up your lips or eyes.  I went with the eyes.  It was pretty helpful, especially the foundation color.  The makeup artists wrote down on a card the makeup they used on you along with some coupons.  I'll be using that for sure! If you wanted to wait in yet another line you could order your makeup there with $10 off, a great deal, but the line for that was forever long and I was ready to go by that point.  

All in all, an interesting event.  Now that I know what to expect I'll pass on the event next year.  I give the event 2 out of 5 stars.  It was too crowded, the set up didn't make it easy to flow from one table to the next without being in traffic jams and the good vendor tables that people wanted to visit had lines that were too long.  

Monday, November 7, 2011

Halloween 2011

I'm WAY late posting anything on Halloween.  I'm sorry.

If it wasn't official already, it is now: Stephen and I love to entertain our friends and family at our house.  We've already hosted two big events at the house and I'm looking forward to so many more.  (Thanksgiving will be at the house this year too, I can't wait.  I'm already thinking of decorations and food.)

We hosted a Halloween party this year for all of our friends.  I'm pretty sure at the most crowded time the house had 25 people (and one dog) or more in costume.  It was fantastic.

We spent quite a few days decorating the house, inside and out, in preparation for the party.  We had orange lights all around the front windows and porch, carved pumpkins lighting the way up the front stairs, a chalk outline of Stephen and Mabel on the sidewalk and hanging, tortured skeletons hanging in the windows.  Inside we had spider webs, blood on the mirrors and windows, spiders and rats everywhere and lots of food.

My favorite was the hanging skeleton, he'll make an appearance next year too.  I hung an orange, plastic table cloth on the inside of the front window.  Then I taped up a large, paper skeleton to the window behind the table cloth and lit one small lamp in the room.  From the street you can only see the orange glow of the table cloth with the shadow of the skeleton.  Love him.

The most important part of the holiday was my costume.  I can be selfish every now and then, right?

I was a box of popcorn!  We had so many boxes around the house after I finished moving in we had to put one of them to good use.

Above is the finished product!!

I started with the box and cut out the bottom and head holes.  Stephen had to help me measure my head for that hole.  Then it was time for the arm holes.  The box was much wider than my shoulders so I couldn't just do little holes or my arms would have had to be away from my body and uncomfortable all night so I made pretty big holes.  They also came in handy for storing my hands later in the night when I needed to eat or drink.

Then I duct taped red and white stripes onto the box, folding the tape around all the edges so it wasn't rough.  Very important, especially around your neck.

The popcorn was the next step.  It's Great Stuff.  The expanding foam.  That was the #1 question I got at the party.  Spray the foam into little balls and when it expands and hardens, it looks like popcorn!  There were lots of warnings on how to use Great Stuff, but if you're not working too fast and pay attention to what you're doing, it was fine.  Nothing spilled, no fingers stuck together.  Easy peasy.

A last minute addition to the costume was the popcorn on my head.  We had a few test popcorns and Stephen was brilliant and glued one to a headband.  The perfect finishing touch.